Google has removed three Android apps targeted at children from its Play Store after a report pointed out that these violated the data collection policies of the tech giant. A non-profit organization, the International Digital Accountability Council (IDAC), conducted research and found that these apps were getting access to the Android Advertising ID (AAID) numbers and Android ID numbers against Google’s policy.
The three said apps, namely Princess Salon, Number Coloring, and Cats & Cosplay, had over 20 million downloads jointly on the Google Play Store and removed from the store now. Google has confirmed the same to a tech portal, Tech Crunch. “Whenever we find an app that violates our policies, we take action,” a company spokesperson told the outlet.
The report added that all three apps remain available for download as APK files. Also, these are live on the iOS App Store. But IDAC has maintained that they have not found similar data collection issues with the apps on iOS. Explaining the threat, IDAC president Quentin Palfrey said the information collected via AIID is put together with an identifier like Android ID; a user’s privacy remains unprotected despite Google’s policies.
The apps targeted at children have to abide by different sets of guidelines. According to Tech Spot, in user data collection, designers of kids’ apps must disclose to Google if their app will be collecting any personally identifiable information. The data includes those collected through application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs).
On the other hand, Facebook is also being investigated by the primary data privacy regulator in the European Union, Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), in Ireland over its handling of children’s data on Instagram. DPC had reportedly received complaints saying that Instagram had made the phone numbers and email addresses of users under 18 public.